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Gaisford, a Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) officer has been assigned to SMWDC Headquarters N5 Department, supporting doctrine and tactics since 2019.
“This has been a significant endeavor that shows the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and the Royal Australian Navy,” said Gaisford. “I’m glad to have made it through to the end, but it was definitely a team effort, and I could not have done it without my classmates. We’re a tight knit team, and that’s how we’re going to win the war.”
SMWDC is comprised of Headquarters in San Diego, and four divisions – two located in California and two in Virginia – focused on IAMD, Anti-Submarine Warfare / Surface warfare (ASW/SUW), Amphibious Warfare (AMW), and mine warfare (MIW). Top-talented surface warfare officers are selected, trained, and qualified as WTIs in one of the four surface warfare focus areas.
“Stephen brings a wealth of naval experience to SMWDC, and I’m glad he gained this warfighting and Aegis expertise,” said SMWDC Commander, Rear Adm. Christopher Alexander. “Continued opportunities for tactical integration and warfighting interoperability between our navies will ensure we can maintain freedom of navigation, deter aggression, and defeat our adversaries in combat when necessary.”
Twenty-seven U.S. Navy officers also graduated and became WTIs - six IAMD, nine AMW, and 12 ASW/SUW. The graduates include: Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Adduce, Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Bonton, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Conti-Vock, Lt. Cmdr. Susan Falt, Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Hodgeman, Lt. Cmdr. Adam Nottberg, Lt. Cmdr. Zachary Smith, Lt. Cmdr. Zachary Zarow, Lt. Korey Bailes, Lt. Brian Beall, Lt. Jeffrey Bortz, Lt. Sean Buggy, Lt. Carl Dowzicky, Lt. John Gwin, Lt. Justin Hatfield, Lt. Nicholas Holt, Lt. Casey Mitchell, Lt. Conor Murtha, Lt. Onanong Smith, Lt. j.g. Jason Gonzalez, Lt. j.g. Jenna Becerra, Lt. j.g. Caitlin Bezecny, Lt. j.g. Emily Scarborough, Lt. j.g. Cady Sheeks, Lt. j.g. Aaron Smith, Ensign Anthony Rosario, and Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Dale.
Cmdr. Ace Richardson, RAN, representing the Australian Naval Attaché, commended Gaisford’s accomplishment.
“Today [this graduation] is the first of its kind, I’d like to pass on my congratulations on behalf of Australia on a job well done,” said Richardson. “It’s an extremely huge undertaking and you should be proud of your efforts. I’d also like to extend congratulations onto your cohorts, you should be proud of what you’ve done, and good luck on your future endeavors.”
Top-talented junior surface warfare officers interested in becoming WTIs can send an email to SWO_WTI@navy.mil for more information about the WTI program and their graduate education opportunities. For more information visit www.facebook.com/SMWDC.